Job Postings – What They Are; What They Are Not and Why You Need Them

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Most industry pundits agree that attracting the right talent to an organization is as important as having innovative products.  If you ask a C-suite executive about job postings, he or she would say that it’s their primary source for bringing the right talent to an organization. But, if you dug deeper into the actual hiring practices, nearly 80% of employees come to an organization via networking and word-of-mouth (  So, why do employers spend so much time focused on job postings if they are only really bringing in less than 20% of their workforce?  And before we unravel that conundrum, let’s explain what a job posting is.

Is a Job Posting a Job Description?

Ask a person on the street and they would say that a job posting is just a job description that someone posts on the Internet in hopes that troves of talented people will respond.  Ask a smart recruiter and she will beg to differ.  A job posting – artfully constructed – consists of five elements:

  • A title
  • A description
  • A list of responsibilities and qualifications
  • A call-to-action
  • A handful of carefully chosen keywords to appeal to the search engines – SEO, for short

Each of these elements is critical to get  “high-po” people – industry short-hand for people with high potential.  The most important distinction between a job posting and a job description is that postings are externally targeted – seeking individuals by way of various media channels where by a job description refers to the internal representation for what the job entails. Many companies use job descriptions for performance reviews.  Why job postings are of particular value is that often times one strategic hire can elevate a company to a different spectrum of competitiveness, especially technology based companies. The relentless search for these highly sought after professionals, is the primary purpose for job postings.

The Five Core Elements – Is This a Waste of Time?

For those who think a job posting is a job description, read on.  Some of this information may surprise you.

1.  Titles – Do They Really Matter?

Market research shows that nearly 70% (How Do People Search for Jobs? Monster) of job seekers are working when they are seeking a job so you need to make it easy for them.  A very important way to do this is through the job title. You can have two titles that virtually mean the same thing, but by the twist of a phrase,  attract different types of people.  For example, customer service representative may be the same position as customer relationship representative, but draw a different audience.  The big question I ask my clients when trying to fill a position – what are you really looking for?  Are you looking for someone who is a change-agent or do you want someone who enforces process?  The titles should intuitively reflect who you are looking for.  Another good example of this is people who are currently working in a director role will rarely consider a manager-titled role.  This reluctance persists even if the director role is in a small company and the manager position is in a larger organization and roughly equivalent to the same title as in a smaller organization.

2.  Description – Who you are, attractive appeal, significance of the position within the company?

Getting the right candidate is a lot like looking at the competitive landscape when carving out a unique value proposition.  You need to be on target with how you describe this position; what are you looking for this person to achieve?  If you devise broad job descriptions, you will attract a broad range of talent, but you will spend more time filtering. This can cost you a lot of time and money.  It makes more sense to pay attention to what you want and think about how you can attract it in your job posting.  The words you select for a job posting need to accurately portray the work that a person will be doing in a given setting.   Another salient point to consider is your company type.  If your company is a purpose-driven organization, this ought to be prominently stated.  You want to attract the individuals that will easily acclimate to your culture and a simple and cost-effective way to do this to properly describe the job position and expectations in your post.   As an employer you need to do soul searching on what will resonate with your culture and be direct as possible with the expectations.  Accurate  representations for hiring  save countless hours for interviewing, hiring and ultimately retaining those who flourish in your environment and culture.

3.  Job Responsibilities /Qualifications – Honing in on What You Want

Accurately characterizing the responsibilities and qualifications minimizes the likelihood for an unsuccessful hire.   Many companies struggle with accurately capturing the day to day responsibilities, which make up the blueprint for any given job.  Studies show candidates spend on an average 90 seconds on any given job posting;  be specific, use bullets  and limit the job posting from 1 to 1.5 pages.   Language is important. Think about the verbs coordinate and manage.  One connotes less responsibility than the other and for those looking for a more senior position, manage would be a verb that has more draw for a senior person.  Consider using action words as opposed to words that are merely a laundry list as this is a way of drawing your most suitable audience. Put some personality into the language.  If you are looking for a creative person, use imagery and figurative language to attract them.  To attract  a data centered engineer, be sure to identify the needs for an analytical, solutions driven person driven by complex technological challenges.

If you are looking for a high impact player, state it.  By pointing out that this job is critical for the company’s success, you will likely draw those that thrive on a high visibility critical role.

When listing responsibilities, consider using “you will… ” as opposed to stating “the incumbent will… ” or “the candidate will…”, for self identification.  This noun conveys ownership to the candidate and paves a potent path of envisioning, seeing oneself in the role.

If you are hiring a replacement, think about what made someone successful in the role and why.  Identifying those traits and attributes that best match the needs for a given role is a critical for finding the best suited candidate.   If this is a new position, ask your key employees their views on what attributes are likely to result in the best fit for the role. When advertizing for a given position,  it is important to use Google Ad Words in selecting the right words and weaving these words in your job description.  According to, this can raise your online visibility by over a 100 percent.

4. Call-to-Action (CTA) – Directing people on how to respond

Clarity is key.  A strong and clear call–to-action reflects upon your business.  A cumbersome or confusing process will deter applicants.

Think about this point another way.  Do you want someone to call the office and bombard your HR Department with calls?  Do you want the job seeker to send in their CV or apply on LinkedIn?  Do you want to be creative and ask the candidate filtering questions in the application process?    This step will help your staff in fielding unwanted calls and send the job seeker down the funnel that you have created.  Most applicants know that an application process requires a cover letter and resume but being precise in your expectations will save your company precious time in identifying those best suited for your need.  Below are some good examples for directing applicants where to apply to an online application process:

-> Apply Now

-> Apply Here

-> Work Here

->Join our Team

-> Join Our Talent Network

5.  SEO – Get Your Position on the Top of the List

When writing up your job description, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) may be the furthest thing from your mind.  We always advise our clients to consider 3 elements: Be thoughtful for those words that best characterize the work and use those words in the Job Posting.   If you have a company that is purposeful or cause-driven, be sure to state so and why.  Use Google ADWords to ID those words and include them in  your Post.  Below are some common SEO terms and practices. Consult with your marketing department for how to fully leveraging your keywords and titles.  If you don’t have a marketing department, there are many SEO expert consultants that you can engage with that are well equipped to assist you in this process.

    • H1 Tag. These H1 or Header 1 tags are reserved for one aspect of the page and this should be your open position.
    • Meta Title. This tagline of ideally less than 70 characters is very important.  Search engines use this for their search results.
    • Social signals. Don’t forget that we live in a social world replete with tweets, retweets, likes and shares.  What can be more powerful than the effect of having your followers retweeting your tweet about a new opportunity? This multiplicative and many times, exponential effect can be not only a great way to attract talent, but an endorsement of your culture and this opportunity.
    • LinkedIn and Facebook have an enormous following, with 400MM users and 5 B users.  viewed as the career network to be found or search for talent. Bring Your Job Posting to Life!

 If you want talented people, make the job posting appealing.  Put the job in context.  Add pictures and videos to your job posting .   Videos are 53% more likely to come up in search engine results.  We live in a visual world and the more that you can bring this position to life the better.  Post the video on the second biggest search engine – YouTube – and don’t forget the power of Instagram to show talented people who you are.  If you can weave in powerful content with pictures, it is a heady mix and a big draw to your organization.

Mobile traffic has grown by 400% since 2011.  Over  50% of job seekers are finding these jobs on their cell phones.  With these facts in mind, be sure your website is “responsive” and can conform to any platform (iPhone, tablet, Android).


There is no silver bullet to finding the best suited candidates, but there are actions you can take to better your process.  Developing a consistent job posting strategy to direct your messaging to answer the who’s and the why’s, should include a tracking process to measure the results.  Track what works and what doesn’t.  Get insight from your competition on how and where they are posting.  By modifying and/or adding to what makes your company unique, you can better target those that resonate with your competitive advantage or brand.  Data clearly indicates that solely relying on job postings for your recruiting program is a bad idea. On the other hand, if the job posting results in landing one high-po that ends up being a game changer for your company, your efforts will pay off in spades.

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